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Log onto and select TownTalk or use IRC software to connect to and enter channel TownTalk.

TownTalk is actually a group of IRC channels on TalkCity. They are all similar in that they're places where friends gather for general conversation, but each room has its own set of regular hosts, imparting each room with its own flavor. Regulars are often fans of particular rooms, or friends of specific hosts, and tend to return to the same room. Topics include just about anything that might be discussed by a group sitting in the living room with the kids nearby. It is a family-oriented area and the hosts work to keep the conversation within bounds. But the hosts are not there primarily to be chat police and have been known to go well above and beyond the call of duty to help old and new friends. During one of our visits a very pregnant visitor apparently went into sudden and unexpectedly advanced labor, with some additional pain and bleeding. As luck would have it, the room host, then going off duty, was a midwife. She asked in the room for a volunteer with an extra phone line to stand by, just in case (we volunteered) and took the woman and her husband into private conversation. There she learned that the situation probably wasn't threatening although there was a good chance that the baby could be along any time. She advised them to call 911 and talked them through the situation until the paramedics arrived. It turned to be false labor, though, and a short while later mommy-to-be was back at home in bed. With her laptop. Chatting with her friends in TownTalk. The channel can be accessed by any Web browser equipped to handle Java-based chat, or through IRC software. - E.L.

subject matter: general conversation

regional affiliation: global

format: chat

language: English

cost: no cost

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